Kenyans have expressed outrage and shock at the news that Sh5 billion was looted by top Ministry of Health officials through manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System, diversion of funds, and double payment for goods.
This follows a leaked internal audit report that showed the theft— five times the infamous Sh791 million National Youth Service scandal— also involved payments of millions of shillings to phony suppliers in the financial year (2015/2016).
More anger was expressed on online platforms such as Twitter over Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri’s threats to a Business Daily journalist for doing the story on the graft in Afya House.
Mugambi M’Mutegi @PeterMutegi tweeted: “The Ministry of Health Sh5 billion scandal on the cover of today’s @BD_Africa makes the NYS one look like child’s play.”
Another, Felista Wangari @FelistaWangari shared the link of the story online and said: “The story the Ministry of Health doesn’t want Kenyans to read: Taxpayers lose Sh5bn in NYS-style Afya House theft”
Ory Okolloh Mwangi, who tweets as @kenyanpundit, said: “PS Muraguri had threatened the author of the Ministry of Health theft story.”
The Nation reached out to Dr Muraguri, who did not pick up the calls but instead sent a message: “Will revert.”
This comes after revelations of another elaborate plan to steal nearly Sh18.2 million in forged vouchers for fictitious payments by procurement officers in the Ministry of Health and those in the lab in May this year.
The payments were for “stationery, chemicals and reagents” in the National Quality Control Laboratory (NQCL).
However, these payments were intercepted by some of the directors of NQCL otherwise eight companies would have pocketed over Sh18.2 million.
Seven of these companies were purporting to supply chemicals and reagent while one — Spring-Line Agencies Ltd — was to supply stationery worth Sh795, 000 to the government facility.
On this, the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said it was being investigated.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has demanded the immediate resignation and prosecution of Dr Muragari for defending wanton corruption at the Ministry and threats to a Business Daily journalist.
“Thousands of Kenyans die every second due to lack of drugs and medical equipment in our public hospitals, but a public officer who is entrusted with this very significant responsibility of saving lives can afford to defend the loss of Sh5 billion with threats to the media,” said KUJ secretary general Erick Oduor.
He added: “Besides dancing on the graves of Kenyans whose lives could have been saved by the drugs and equipment that were to be procured by the diverted funds, Dr Muraguri disclosed that the government will instead consider hacking into systems of newsrooms, and spy what journalists are doing.”
Mr Oduor called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to: “Demand accountability from such public officers who believe that espionage in newsrooms is the only cure to corruption cancer in government ministries.”